A graduating senior finds solace learning a new form of media.
The first week of my last quarter as a college student, I found myself no longer at UC San Diego. I felt lost, yet optimistic that as a school community we could face this pandemic to the best of our ability. I found comfort in knowing that everyone was in the same position as me. We were all being forced to assimilate to conditions never experienced before.
Of the four final college classes I am currently taking, I am fortunate to have an affinity for one: Audio Media. It was the missing link that allowed me to view quarantining in a different light and changed how I would navigate the stay-at-home order that had seemed so daunting before. At its core, the main objective of the class is to create an audio diary of our experience during quarantine, week by week, and cut it down into a single episode podcast. After four weeks of recording diaries, I can honestly say that I have found the whole experience extremely therapeutic. This class has become a coping mechanism and a soft place to land when everything else has felt like too much. I have even started recording my own personal audio diaries, although I never intend to submit those for course credit! I learned that there was something about capturing my voice and hearing the emotion inside that helped me gain perspective in a way that I hadn’t previously experience.
As a visual learner, typically I’ve always preferred the visual elements that movies provided, so turning to a book or podcast wasn’t ever something that I gravitated toward. But as I began recording my diaries, that preference began to shift and I noticed that I was getting the emotional release that I wasn’t getting in conversations with family and friends or passively watching a show or movie. My audio recording provided no outside perspectives, no opinions, just my stream of consciousness to articulate how I was feeling in a given moment, on a particular day. In some ways having just the auditory dictation made everything else nonessential. The listener is left to construct their own visual context, totally up to the imagination. The stutters and the “ums” that originally made me cringe began to hold weight, meaning, importance, and helped my listeners process my intent and emotion on a much deeper level than the written word ever could.
After the stay-at-home order is finished and life returns to some form of normalcy, I believe that I will continue this practice. This audio class has provided me with more than I ever imagined when initially enrolling. It helped and continues to help me acclimate to this everchanging environment. Plus, if it can help me through one of the most uncertain times in my life now, I should be able to get through the struggles of mundane daily life.
Jessica Dinneen lives in Los Altos, California, and is completing her final quarter as a Triton remotely. She will graduate from UC San Diego in June 2020 with a degree in communication from Eleanor Roosevelt College. She plans to pursue a career in media marketing for film and television.